Summer 2017 Corps Review    |    Back

Col. Ed Shames spoke to cadets during a Leaders in Action lecture in March.

Col. Ed Shames speaks at a podium.
Col. Ed Shames spoke to cadets during a Leaders in Action lecture in March.

 By Elaine Humphrey, director, Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice Center for Leader Development

As the 2016-17 academic year drew to a close, I decided to revisit the article I submitted at this time last year. The review reminded me of how much was accomplished this year! The following are a few of the highlights.

With a focus on the freshmen, we expanded the FAST (Freshman Academic Success Teams) program to run the entire fall semester. Most weeks, the freshmen met with their FAST facilitators during Sunday evening call to quarters rather than meeting with me for the ever-popular Monday night class. During the meeting, freshmen worked with an upperclass cadet on college success essentials such as time management and study skills. Freshmen could also ask their facilitators any questions they had concerning the transition from high school to college and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. One of the primary goals was for every freshman to have a specific plan for the upcoming week that balanced academics and non-academics/Corps activities.

The year was also spent merging the review of the leadership minors with intensive examination of the Corps’ curriculum. The staff used the opportunity to strengthen the leader development program. One outcome was the discontinuation of three minors tied to a cadet’s commissioning or non-commissioning status and the establishment of one minor for all cadets. Now all cadets have the same requirements to earn the minor. More details are available online.

Additionally, the Corps Labs moved to more practice of leadership rather than lectures. The battalion times gave opportunities to pursue learning objectives across courses. To support the Corps’ mission of “global, ethical leaders … now, more than ever,” a global leader development component was launched. Every semester, cadets had an assignment that ranged from completing a global competencies assessment to “breaking bread” with a student from a different culture.

Our Leaders in Action lecture series also was noteworthy. In October, Ethan Moore and Neal Schrodetski discussed their documentary “The Unknowns.” This film gives a powerful account of the history and extraordinary training to become a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. Brian Thacker spoke to the cadets in November to highlight the Corps’ annual Medal of Honor remembrance. Col. Wes Fox, also a Medal of Honor recipient, joined us for that special event. In March, Col. Ed Shames, the only living officer from Easy Company/Band of Brothers from World War II, addressed the cadets. The final event was the Cutchins Distinguished Lecture that featured Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian, on April 6. 

All in all, the Rice Center was actively engaged in the leader development of our cadets with substantive and enthusiastic contributions by staff, cadets, and other stakeholders. All signs point to a great year to come!